After years of languishing in the Republican-led Senate, a constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for most ex-felons appears poised to win legislative approval Wednesday at the behest of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. The full Senate is expected to sign off on the proposal Wednesday afternoon, following a scheduled appearance by Paul to push the bill through the Senate State and Local Government Committee at noon, said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. “I think it has a good chance of passing,” Stivers said Tuesday afternoon.
House Bill 70, sponsored by state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, already has cleared the state House. If the Senate approves the bill with no changes, voters would decide the amendment’s fate at the ballot box in November. If changes are made, the House must approve the revised version of the bill or set up a committee to negotiate a compromise.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, has said that he could not support HB 70 in its current form. Instead, Thayer said he might be able to vote for the proposal if it was changed to include a five-year waiting period for each qualified ex-felon, “to make sure they do nothing wrong during that time.”